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Cheltenham Festival - The Northern Challenge: Waiting Patiently Likely To Head Northern Challenge

Waiting Patiently is likely to head a small band of fancied northern-trained horses who will head to the Cheltenham festival next month.

UNCLE ALASTAIR - 20-1 with William Hill 20/1 William Hill

Best Of The Northern-trained Runners

During the 1970’s and 80’s norther-trained horses held their own against the best the Irish and southern stables could muster but things have changed in recent years with strongly-fancied contenders from that part of the country thin on the ground. The Ruth Jefferson inmate Waiting Patiently must have a great chance if allowed to take his chance in the Ryanair Chase while Lady Buttons, Vintage Clouds and Uncle Alastair are others to consider:

WAITING PATIENTLY– 11-2 with bet365 for Ryanair Chase (non-runner-no-bet)
With an official rating of 170 easily the best horse trained in the north. The eight-year-old was unbeaten in six races over fences before stepping up in trip for this season’s King George on Boxing Day for which the son of Flemensfirth was sent off the well-backed 4-1 second favourite. Just where the mount of Brian Hughes would have finished in relation to winner Clan Des Obeaux will remain a mystery after the gelding unseated his rider following interference sustained by the fall of Bristol De Mai at the ninth fence when yet to be asked a question. Connections may bypass the festival if they are not satisfied with ground conditions but the gelding must have as good a chance as any if allowed to take his chance.

LADY BUTTONS – 16-1 with Ladbrokes in their Cheltenham betting odds for Mares Hurdle.
Possibly the best mare trained in the north and Philip Kirby’s nine-year-old is a model of consistency with ten wins from twenty one starts over hurdles and fences. Also entered for the Queen Mother Champion Chase where she would almost certainly have to face the unbeaten Altior, so the ‘easier’ Mares Hurdle on Tuesday must surely be first choice now that Apple’s Jade looks like running in the Champion Hurdle.

VINTAGE CLOUDS – 33-1 with Coral for Ultima Handicap Chase.
Third in this race last year before going on to fill the same position in Coral Scottish Grand National. Sue Smith’s grey son of Cloudings has been dropped 2lb since pulling up in the Welsh Grand National following a bad mistake at the 16th fence and has a big handicap in him at some point this season.

UNCLE ALASTAIR – 20-1 with William Hill for Close Brothers Handicap.
A decent novice hurdler for Nicky Richards before going over fences for the first time at Carlisle in November when finishing a two length second to a good chasing recruit in Vinndication. Has been given a rating of 135, 15lb less than his Carlisle victor so could have an excellent chance if making the cut.